U.S. failed to conduct security practices audit before approving port management deal

Published 27 February 2006

The representative of DHS on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) was the sole dissenting voice to the taking over significant operations at six U.S. ports by a UAE-based company. Eventually he changed his mind and the committee approved the deal without dissent. Stewart Baker, a senior DHS official, said he changed his vote after DP World agreed to the security conditions. Other officials confirmed Baker’s account.

On Sunday talk shows, several administration officials described the CFIUS vetting process of the Dubai company as “rigorous,” but Baker acknowledged that a government audit of security practices at the U.S. ports in the takeover has not been completed as part of the deal. “We had the authority to do an audit earlier,” Baker said. The audit will help evaluate DP World’s security programs to stop smuggling and detect illegal shipments of nuclear materials at its seaport operations. Despite public proclamations to the contrary, the administration privately disclosed the status of the security audit to senators during meetings about improving reviews of future business deals involving foreign buyers. Officials did not suggest the audit’s earlier completion would have affected the deal’s approval.

-read more in this AP report